About the Book
Author: Natalie Whipple
Publisher: Whipple House
Date of Publication: November 10, 2015
Russ is a high school football player who feels like he always comes in second to his best friend, Garret. In sports. In school. With girls. Well, he’s tired of it, and he gets the rather foolish idea that if he can win the heart of the new girl in town before Garret he can prove he’s not just sloppy seconds.
His plan? Use his anime-obsessed sister’s group, who has befriended the new girl, to get closer to her. He’d never tell the team, but he’s been going to Anime Night for years and might even enjoy it. That would ruin his reputation, just like his secret love for cooking and James Taylor.
But pretending to be something you aren’t catches up to you eventually, and Russ can only get away with living two lives for so long. As more than one person reveals they have something to hide, Russ must figure out what and who he really wants in his life. And more than that, he needs the courage to make it happen.
When I was asked to review SIDEKICK by Natalie Whipple I jumped at the chance. I reviewed FISH OUT OF WATER last year and it’s a book that I think of regularly. Another contemporary by Natalie Whipple? I was on board! Not only that, but a jock who secretly loves anime? A friend who feels like he’s the sidekick? I wanted to read this book.
So I did. And I couldn’t put it down.
I mean, I did. I had to, because things like work and sleep and life get in the way of reading (WHY?), but I often put it down much later than I should have. I had to read one more chapter, and then one more after that until I realized it was past midnight and I had to get up before the crack of dawn the next day. I thought about this book while I was at work and basically doing anything that wasn’t reading-related.
One thing that I love about Whipple’s books are her diverse group of characters. I haven’t read any writing blogs recently, but the last time I went through my old faves the lack of diversity in YA was a big topic of discussion. If you’re looking for diverse characters in fiction, Natalie Whipple is the author for you.
Not only are her characters diverse, but their interests are as well. I loved that anime was such a big part of this book. Her characters tend to have the coolest interests… well, cool in my book, at least. I love that they’re different than what I typically see in fiction.
But what I love most about this book is the heart behind it. This is the second book I’ve read this year that really explores friendship and I love that the “relationship” focus is on friends, not a romantic pairing. Sure, there’s romance in this book, but the focus of this book is definitely friendship, followed by relationships between siblings, and I love that.
This is the perfect book to read over the holidays! It’s set during the fall and the holiday season, but it’s not a Christmas book, so it can be enjoyed at anytime of year.
I will say that I felt like it got a little long toward the end, but that’s definitely not a reason to turn away from the book.
Natalie Whipple grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU, with a minor in editing. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook.
She is the author of the TRANSPARENT series, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, the I’M A NINJA series, FISH OUT OF WATER, and MY LITTLE BRONY (under K.M. Hayes). In addition to that, she is on the writing team for the cRPG Torment: Tides of Numenera that should be out sometime in 2015.
HAVE YOU READ ANY BOOKS BY NATALIE WHIPPLE? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVES?
ps – FISH OUT OF WATER